Google Maps return to iOS highly unlikely, according to sources

Apple Maps
Wherefore art thou Google Maps?

A new report dashes hopes that Google Maps will ever really return to Apple's iOS environment.

Sources close to Google's mapping development and speaking with The Guardian said they are "not optimistic" that Apple will ever officially approve another map app from the search giant.

Those sources claimed the search engine is developing another version of Google Maps for iOS 6, even though it likely will get shot down.

However, the app should be ready by the end of the year in "the unlikely event" that Apple gives the program a green light.

Apple vs Google

The trouble started when Apple replaced Google Maps with its own mapping app as it introduced iOS 6 back in September.

Rumors indicated a rift between the two companies formed when Google withheld turn-by-turn navigation and vector graphics from the Apple version of its map app.

So, the Cupertino company decided to develop its own navigation application, and throw it in with its newest iOS update instead of Google Maps.

A rough start for Apple Maps

Apple Maps was far from perfect when it debuted and it still continues to struggle.

It released with loads of missing, inaccurate and frustratingly lacking map data, including jumbling points of interest, graphical glitches and leaving out public transportation information.

The inferior product created a huge public backlash, one that lead to a rare letter of apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The mapping misstep also reportedly resulted in the resignation of Scott Forstall, vice president of iOS Software.

Slim chances

Some hoped that Forstall's departure would mean a different direction for Apple's "maptastrophe," and that Google Maps might make its way onto iOS 6.

Another glimmer of hope showed when Cook suggested customers use rival services such as Google (through Safari) until Maps can be fixed. But it doesn't look like the two companies will make up anytime soon.

Users can still use Google Maps through the Safari web browser, but the service is slower and not as reliable as its official app version was.

However, it looks like that will be the only way for iOS users to access Google Maps going forward.

Those sources said Apple would rather save face as much as possible and will "keep moving forward in an effort to make its obviously inferior product better."

Smoothing out Maps

There have been some signs that Apple is making the necessary changes to fill the void Google Maps left.

A month ago, rumors circulated that Apple would use its legions of Apple Store employees to help fill in information gaps.

Last week, Apple released a new beta version of iOS 6.1 for developers to debug their apps on.

The beta included a new tool to the MapKit framework, which lets developers better search and return results for points of interest through maps.

The new tool won't be the silver bullet needed to fix all the Apple Maps problems, but it's the first tangible step Apple has taken to improve Maps.

Those same Google sources say the tech giants may work it out eventually. The two companies are in constant conversations about a number of topics, and things could change quickly.

But even if Google Maps comes back to iOS, it won't be Apple's main navigation app.

Via The Guardian